Museum of Watery Relations

Amber Abrams

2022 2022 Winner | Science Engagement Science Engagement (Falling Walls Engage)

Amber Abrams is a Carnegie/DEAL research fellow at Future Water Institute at the University of Cape Town. Her work here focuses on social sciences and human health around water, often through engaged, participatory and arts-based methods. During her PhD (University of Kent), Amber focused the wellbeing of South African peoples living on the boundaries of protected areas, which combined her interests in public health, and medical/environmental anthropology with studies in conservation and ecology.

Before this, Amber worked at the South African Medical Research Council managing the WHO-affiliated Pan African Clinical Trials Registry ( from 2009 to 2012.
She was also positioned as a Senior Scientist (part-time consultant, SACC and Environment and Health Unit) in 2012, where she presented on a range of projects from traditional healing, to clinical guidelines and ethics. Prior to that, Amber completed her undergraduate degree at Barnard College (Columbia University) followed by her masters in medical anthropology (UCT) .

Her research covers a variety of topics, including: exploring water uses and users perspectives in the Table Mountain National Park area, developing a water museum, researching social aspects of resource recovery from waste-water, and of stormwater interventions in urban environments, exploring health vulnerability in the context of extreme weather events, and a range of public health and social engagement projects focused on water quality/toxicity that make use of arts-based approaches. While her current work primarily focuses on research, she loves teaching, especially research methods courses and creating new spaces for learning in collaboration with others; especially efforts that can disrupt the status quo when it comes to notions of knowledge holders and expertise.

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Museum of Watery Relations

South Africa (Cape Town)

The Museum of Watery Relations is located at Future Water Institute, at the University of Cape Town. The project engages citizens in Cape Town and South Africa with the aim of collaboratively developing an online interactive map of the various water samples/stories submitted to begin to develop an understanding of local water users and their perceptions of their water sources.

The map provides an interactive space, where:

  • Individuals can input your own water sources, and related stories, images, or efforts;
  • Groups and organizations linked to water can share their projects and network with others;
  • Researchers and funders can begin to understand the water-use and watery engagements landscape; and
  • We can all come together around the vital resource of water, to better understand our watery needs, relations and uses.

Visit the map and start exploring.

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